A disappointingly thin first novel about a young Chicana grad student's coming out. De la Pe§a is a winner of the Chicano Literary Prize from the University of California, Irvine. When aspiring writer Veronica Melendez, 22, is injured in a car crash that kills her lover and best friend, Joanna, Veronica is left alone to put the pieces of her life back together. Staying in her brother's apartment and watching her teenaged nephew while his father is away, she meets and becomes sexually involved with neighbor Siena Benedetti, a bisexual model who has recently gone through her own personal tragedy. Veronica and Siena have a passionate affair, but when they are discovered by Veronica's nephew, he runs away in disgust and is hit by a car. This accident eventually leads Veronica to come out to her Chicano family, including her sister, a nun, and reveal as well the real nature of her relationship with the dead Joanna. In the end, Veronica leaves Siena, who has never really felt comfortable in the lesbian world, for the fiery filmmaker RenÇ Talamontes. Soap-opera-ish in plot and surprisingly one-dimensional in style. At times this reads like a graphic lesbian Harlequin romance, complete with the heroine falling for the brutish, forceful seducer, despite initial protests of distaste. Instead of revealing a potentially rich Chicano texture, the novel's action seems to take place in a vacuum, albeit a politically correct one.